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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for March 16, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Cipollini's fatigue

Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze)
Photo ©: Olympia Photo

Not long after insisting he would be "at 150%" for Milan-San Remo this Saturday, Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) decided to throw in the towel at Tirreno-Adriatico, abandoning after 60 kilometres in Monday's stage 6. Although he and his team have pointed out his lacklustre results at Tirreno-Adriatico in the past, followed by a strong performance in San Remo, the former world champion seems to be feeling the weight of his slow start.

"I don't know if it's mental or physical," Cipollini wondered aloud. "I'm 37 years old, maybe I'm paying for my age. All I can say is that my concentration right now isn't letting me push any harder."

One factor Cipollini does evoke is his continued sadness over the death of Marco Pantani one month ago. "Marco's death is a nightmare that still haunts me," he said. "I was very emotional when I heard fans on the road cheering 'Forza Pantani', as if he were still living, and at the same time it was very sad."

Winner of Milan-San Remo in 2002, the same year as his world championships victory in Zolder, Belgium, Cipollini will have to find the answer to his lack of form in the next few days.

Quick.Step-Davitamon for Milan-San Remo

Quick.Step-Davitamon has released its official team for Milan-San Remo, notably without Johan Museeuw. The team will be led by Paolo Bettini, with Tom Boonen, Davide Bramati, Pedro Horrillo, Nick Nuyens, Luca Paolini, Michael Rogers and Stefano Zanini able to provide more than adequate support for the in-form Italian champion.

Sprinter Tom Boonen, who abandoned Paris-Nice on Saturday, is looking forward to Milan-San Remo. "I found it better to take the time to recover completely from my cold," he was quoted by VRT Teletekst. "I stepped off with very good legs. A nice prospect for Milan-San Remo, which I'm really looking forward to."

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago for Milan-San Remo

Yaroslav Popovych will lead the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago squad in La Primavera on Saturday, accompanied by Lorenzo Bernucci, Volodomir Bileka, Volodomir Duma, Jacky Durand, Ludo Dierckxsens, Cristian Gasperoni, Geert Van Bondt and either Sergey Lagutin or Johan Verstrepen.

US Postal close to MSR squad

The US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor team has almost finalised its roster for Milan-San Remo, the first World Cup race of the season. Team director Johan Bruyneel confirmed to Cyclingnews that eight riders of the following nine will make the cut: Lance Armstrong, Antonio Cruz, Viatcheslav Ekimov, George Hincapie, Benoît Joachim, Victor Hugo Peņa, Benjamin Noval, Pavel Padrnos and Max van Heeswijk.

Gaumont reveals his methods

Ex-Cofidis professional Philippe Gaumont has once again opened up to the French press, discussing his career and his routine use of banned substances during his time in the pro peloton. In his latest interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Gaumont shed some light on his own methods of doping, and more explicitly, how he was able to avoid testing positive while racing.

Gaumont, who was questioned by French police in light of the arrest of Cofidis soigneur Bogdan Madejak in January, admitted to drug use during his career but has not faced any criminal charges. He was subsequently released by Cofidis. In his interview this week, Gaumont focused on the ineffectiveness of certain doping controls, and the variety of doping methods which remain undetectable. He claims to offer the information to force the sport and its federations to better understand how riders go about enhancing their performances illegally.

"First of all, there are a lot of products that aren't detectable, like growth hormones, that riders use as they like," Gaumont explained. "On the other hand, since EPO has become detectable, people can't take it during the races any more. But blood transfusions are still undetectable."

Gaumont also revealed the importance of having a doctor willing to write justifications for certain products, notably corticoids. As Gaumont explains it, there are no masking products, rather masking prescriptions.

"Here's how it works," he said. "The team doctor sends you to see an allergy specialist. The specialist says you are allergic to dust mites and prescribes a spray... When you go to a doping control, you declare your allergy and that you have a prescription for Nasacort (a product Gaumont says masks cortisone), which you used in the morning in a nasal inhaler. At the same time, you've taken in injection of Kenacort (a banned substance), since at the control they can't tell the difference between a spray and an injection."

It's revelations such as this that Gaumont offers as information for the federations to better test for banned substances. Gaumont may have backed off of his statement that 90% of the peloton is using some sort of substance, but he clearly believes that drug use in cycling remains rampant.

"Nobody ever warned me about the risk to my health associated with any given substance," Gaumont concluded, regretting what he viewed as an emphasis on riders' performances over their health. "They only warned me about the risks of testing positive at a doping control."

CSC team to start in Ster Elektrotoer

The five day Dutch stage race, Ster Elektrotoer, takes place between June 16-20 this year. This UCI 2.3 race is not easy and features several stages in the hilly Limburg region. Although it competes with the Volta ao Catalunya, Route du Sud and the Tour de Suisse, the race has managed to attract several top teams, including CSC, Rabobank and Lotto-Domo.

Bjarne Riis' CSC team, which recently conquered Paris-Nice, intends to use the race as preparation for the Tour de France according to the race organisers. CSC hopes to be a significant player in the Tour, especially in the first ten days.

The parcours of the Ster Elektrotoer is not too much different from the 2003 tour. The first stage is a prologue time trial in Veldhoven, a very fast 4.8 kilometre parcours around the city centre. The second stage is from Eindhoven to Nuth, starting with a flat loop before going into the Limburg hills for a total of 197 km. The third stage (199 km) will start and finish in Valkenburg, and will be run entirely in Limburg. The stage will finish atop the Cauberg.

The fourth and toughest stage will venture into Ardennes in Belgium. The stage starts in Coo, known for its waterfalls, and finishes in Jalhay next to the reservoir of La Gileppe. This stage measures 200 km and is peppered with hard climbs, including La Redoute and other climbs that are well known from Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The final stage starts in Sittard/Geleen and finishes in Schijndel, the home of the organisation of the Ster Elektrotoer.

The stages

Stage 1 - June 16: Veldhoven ITT, 4.8 km
Stage 2 - June 17: Eindhoven - Nuth, 197 km
Stage 3 - June 18: Valkenburg - Valkenburg, 199 km
Stage 4 - June 19: Coo - La Gileppe, Jalhay, 200 km
Stage 5 - June 20: Sittard/Geleen - Schijndel, 170 km

@Home Cycling Team presentation

By Bert Geerts

Team director Monique Knol
Photo ©: Bert Geerts

The Dutch women's UCI squad, @Home Cycling Team, was presented at the head offices of @Home in Groningen, Netherlands. The nine member team features past junior World Champion Loes Markerink and top cyclo-crosser (also a previous World Champion) Daphny van den Brand. @Home will be directed by Wim Kruis, who has previously directed the Jamin, Bose and Keukengilde women's team. His partner Monique Knol (1988 Olympic Champion) is the team's coach.

The 2004 season did not start that well for @HOme, as directeur sportif Thijs Rondhuis left due to personal reasons, and the sisters Daniëlle and Eyelien Bekkering also decided to leave to sign for the new BIK team. Joan Boskamp opted to stop with cycling altogether and last - but not least - Arenda Grimberg didn't sign for @Home, but for the new Therme Skin Care team.


Images by Bert Geerts

Click here for the full @Home team roster.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)